Tuesday, January 13, 2009
We are having a beautiful spring day here. I know, it's not spring yet, but it sure doesn't feel like winter! I'm going to enjoy it to the fullest while I can.
Today I walked 1 1/2 miles on the treadmill while watching a horse video. Then I talked horses (and mules) with my sister for a while on the phone. Then I went and got Tonka out and we had a GREAT ride. When we got back I took Scout out for his first walk down the road. So far, an excellent horsey day!
The video is Vaquero Traditions Ranch Horse Series with Ty Heth - Snaffle Bit Video. Excellent so far (I've only watched a half hour of it). I like the softness that he gets from his horse. Instead of wrenching the head around to your boot, with tension on the rein until the last part of the move when your horse gives, he has you just ask them to slightly tip their head in that direction. This is something I've needed to work on with Tonka. He is heavy on the bit (worse lately), and all the flexing we've done has not helped at all.
So, once we were saddled up, I played with what I had just learned on the video. He did real well at the standstill, of course with a little bit of trial and error because as I said, he needed work on this. At the walk it was iffy, so we went back to working on it at the halt. Got it pretty well at the walk and then we headed up the road. He did a decent job, not so well when he was distracted. But definitely an improvement.
He did SO much better passing the neighbor horses today! He's usually a big plug, just stops and wants to visit. I wear myself out trying to get him going. I was going to have my lead rope with a popper with me so I could whack him, but I forgot. Which I think is a good thing, because we did it without whacking. I just made sure to leave my reins really loose, not to touch them at all unless I had to steer him away from the fence, and we got through it pretty easily. The second herd of neighbor horses we trotted by, and I was so pleased! Now, I'm not sure if I was inadvertently asking him to stop before, or if he was just in a more compliant mood today. Either way, it was a big improvement.
Then we went down to the highway, which I haven't done with him before. Not that he hasn't been by a highway, he has. But not this one. He wasn't too worried with all the stuff down there and the semis going by. He just kinda wanted to get on with the ride and cross the highway. Unfortunately that would land us in the creek. We turned around and came home. I'm not quite brave (stupid?) enough to go by myself into the area where we saw the moose the other day. I don't want to come off my horse and get hurt with nobody around to witness it. Although since he was so good today, I may try it tomorrow. I can just get off and walk if he starts to get worried.
Scout had a great first walk down the road. I had to do a little reminder stuff here at home, he was trying to shoulder into me. Then off we went. He stuck his nose on mailboxes, investigated garbage, ignored utility thingies on the side of the road. Now, that ignoring isn't a good thing, he was denying their existence. But later, I had him go look at a plastic bag stuck to a barbwire fence, fluttering in the breeze, and it had one of those utility things next to it. I think he did see it and wasn't worried. But it's something to keep in mind in the future. Just because he's ignored something doesn't mean he's okay with it. He may "suddenly" see it someday and spook.
When Scout and I got down to the highway and the hardware/feed store that is there, he had a little fit. He couldn't take the big traffic. Little traffic wasn't so bad, but those big log and woodchip trucks were too much. And the store owners saw us and wanted to chat. I had to just let Scout walk circles around me while we talked. They are such nice people! They said I could stick Scout in their demo roundpen right next to the highway someday so he could get used to it. Wow, that's so... unheard of anymore. Everyone's so worried about liability. That is so generous of them.
I hope you're all having a wonderful day too!